AFRICAN Union Sports Council Region Five under-20 Youth Games regional organising committee chairperson, Mvuzo Mbebe, has expressed confidence Zimbabwe will be ready to host the Games despite delays in renovations at some of the venues that would be used for the regional sporting showcase.
Speaking after the draw for the sixth edition of the Games at a Bulawayo hotel on Friday evening, Mbebe said they had spent the whole week taking the confederations and chef de missions to the venues, who expressed confidence that all would be in place come December.
The Games will run from 5 to 14 December in Bulawayo.
Mbebe said they spent the better part of last week meeting the chef de missions and confederations who gave their input into the preparations of the Games.
“The draw should signal a shift in readiness for the games as we move a gear up. We have gone through the planning and operation stages and now is the time to focus on the execution phase. It is now game time and everyone involved should now be working full time and sleeping in the office to ensure all work is complete before the games begin.
“The confederations and chef de missions also toured the hostels (Hillside Teachers College) where athletes will be staying and the command centre (Bulawayo Polytechnic) and were happy with what they saw.
“We met the local organising committee and they are aware of areas they should be working on,” he said.
Sports, Arts and Culture minister, Andrew Langa, who also addressed the Press conference, said Bulawayo will be ready to host the Games adding only one venue, White City, was lagging behind out of five where renovations had been initiated.
Mbebe said venues would be ready by 15 November and that the local organising committee was expected to hold test events from that day up until 28 November.
He said preparatory matches could involve school teams and that they did not have to be big events.
Langa said he had presented the revised budget to Cabinet and had received a positive response adding the issue would come up for deliberation again in the next Cabinet meeting.
On whether the country and athletes were not at risk of being exposed to Ebola which was ravaging the West African region, Mbebe pointed out that countries taking part in the Games were Ebola free and it was unlikely they could bring in the disease into the country.
“We are very comfortable holding the Games despite the perceived Ebola threat. There are no traces of the disease in southern Africa where all the countries are coming from and Zimbabwe’s Health Ministry has come up with a plan to deal with not only Ebola but all other communicable diseases and would monitor the athletes.
“The African Union recently stressed there were no restrictions on the freedom of movement of African citizens on the continent and the World Health Organisation has not issued any alerts hence we stand guided by these two organisations,” he said.
A1: Zimbabwe, A2: Angola, A3: Malawi, A4: South Africa, A5, Swaziland, A6: Mozambique
A1: Lesotho, A2: Angola, A3: South Africa, A4: Botswana, A5: Zimbabwe, A6: Mozambique
A1: Botswana, A2: South Africa, A3: Namibia, A4: Swaziland, A5: Zimbabwe
Pool A: Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, Angola and Malawi
Pool B: South Africa, Zambia, Lesotho, Seychelles and Namibia
Fixtures, according to the technical committee will be released tomorrow.